Wellness Core Grain Free canned dog food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Wellness Core Grain Free product line includes six canned dog foods, one claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for growth (Core Puppy), three for adult maintenance and two for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Core Grain Free Puppy
- Core Grain Free Weight Maintenance
- Core Grain Free Beef, Venison and Lamb
- Core Grain Free Turkey, Pork Liver and Duck
- Core Grain Free Salmon, Whitefish and Herring
- Core Grain Free Turkey, Chicken Liver and Turkey Liver
Wellness Core Grain Free Turkey, Chicken Liver and Turkey Liver was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Wellness Core Turkey, Chicken Liver and Turkey Liver
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, turkey, chicken liver, chicken broth, chicken meal, turkey liver, sweet potatoes, carrageenan, guar gum, carrots, apples, spinach, parsley, blueberries, broccoli, kale, ground flaxseed, salmon oil, salt, chicory root extract, Yucca schidigera extract, potassium chloride, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, cobalt proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, riboflavin supplement, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin B-12 supplement, potassium iodide, biotin, vitamin D-3 supplement
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2.3%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||55%||36%||1%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||38%||61%||1%|
The first ingredient is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1
The second ingredient is turkey, another quality raw item.
Both chicken and turkey are naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The third ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The fourth ingredient is chicken broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food they are a common finding in many canned products.
The fifth ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The sixth ingredient is turkey liver, another named organ meat.
The seventh ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With five notable exceptions…
First, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.
Next, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
In addition, salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.
Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.
Next, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.
Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.
And lastly, this food also contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.
Wellness Core Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Wellness Core looks like an above-average canned dog food.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 54% and a mean fat level of 32%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 6% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a significant amount of meat.
Wellness Core Grain Free is a meat-based canned dog food using a significant amount of various named species as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.
A Final Word
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For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".
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Notes and Updates
07/18/2014 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩